A final minute penalty strike from Kris Bright ensured all three points for Bharat FC. The win sees the I-League debutants off the foot of the league table. In spite of some excellent play from Arata Izumi and Nikhil Kadam, Kris Bright had the last laugh.
Edgar Marcelino and Darko Nikac put Bharat FC on the back foot
The Pune derby got off to a flier with both sides looking to secure the bragging rights. With Darko Nikac back at the helm of the attack for Pune, the latter looked the more threatening. The opening chance came in the 18th minute, courtesy of some fabulous play by Edgar Marcelino. However, Palestine international Omar Jarun was all that stood between a goal and Darko Nikac.
The Red Lizards missed another chance a few minutes later. This time it was the impressive Arindam Bhattacharya, who denied Nikac from opening the scoring. The deadly combination of Nikac and Marcelino came to the fore once more at the cusp of half time. A peach of a cross from Marcelino failed to get the appropriate contact from Nikac as the first half concluded in a goalless stalemate.
Dead-ball specialist Steven Dias was withdrawn courtesy of an injury at half time. He was replaced by Tapan Maity.
Pune rue missed chances
In a bid to introduce some pace and trickery, Nikhil Kadam was brought on for Edgar Marcelino. The Pune attack consisting of Ryuji Sueoka, Arata Izumi, Nikhil Kadam and Darko Nikac caused massive problems for the Bharat FC defence.
A mistake from Omar Jarun with 65 minutes played saw Darko Nikac get an opportunity, only to miss out on it yet again. The introduction of Prakash Thorat for Arata Izumi did little to add urgency to the Pune FC attack.
Bharat FC turn the tables
Gouramagi Singh was the beneficiary of the first chance for Bharat FC as his header missed the post by a few inches. In a shocking move, the substitute Prakash Thorat was withdrawn. Thongkhosiem Haokip was brought on by Bencherifa with 10 minutes to play.
Kris Bright seals last minute win
With the likes of Subhash Singh and Romuald Boco looking dangerous, it looked as though the match would go either way. Having had a rather decent game, a moment of madness from Luciano Sabrosa handed the perfect opportunity for Bharat FC. A handball from a Boco shot saw the referee point to the spot.
A wonderfully converted penalty from Kris Bright on the 90 minute mark saw the Tigers bag a crucial win.
In spite of not affecting the title race in any way, Stuart Watkiss will certainly be pleased with his side’s performance. The battle for Pune has now been well and truly won by Bharat FC.